This morning another email comes from the database of Rudd’s Remainers which you may remember split acrimoniously into different factions in its pre-election People’s Vote incarnation for reasons none of us can quite remember. Tom Baldwin and James McCrory were kicked out and it all sort of fizzled out.
Now it seems yet again to be rebranding as Democracy Unleashed, using a database that has been illegally re-purposed – something that the LibDems got heavily fined for doing. Obviously to avoid that they sent their email this morning signed by the CEO of Open Britain, an older incarnation under the Democracy Unleashed branding. It is a basic tenet of EU GDPR law that data gathered for one purpose can not be used for another without permission. Permission they have neither sought nor been given…
The People’s Vote campaign is back from the dead, following its complete collapse in November last year. It is now going by the name of ‘Democracy Unleashed’. The People’s Vote campaign was itself a rebranding of Open Britain, which in turn was a rebranding of the official Remain campaign. The same organisation holding the same valuable data changing its clothes yet again. Guido has compiled a timeline…
- 12 October 2015 – Britain Stronger in Europe (BSE) campaign founded.
- 15 April 2016 – BSE receives designation. Official campaign begins.
- 23 June 2016 – BSE loses the EU Referendum by 1,269,501 votes.
- 25 August 2016 – BSE changes name to Open Britain.
- 26 July 2018 – Open Britain changes name to People’s Vote.
- 23 May 2019 – Parties endorsing a ‘People’s Vote’ lose EU Parliamentary elections.
- 9 July 2019 – Labour changes Brexit position to back a ‘People’s Vote’.
- November 2019 – People’s Vote campaign collapses.
- 13 December 2019 – People’s Vote campaign shuts down.
- 17 June 2020 – People’s Vote campaign changes name to ‘Democracy Unleashed’.
Last week, Sheridan Parker resigned as the sole Director of People’s Vote Limited, and was replaced by Christopher Clayton. A very powerful dataset looks to be gearing back up again in British politics. Personally, Guido prefers Comedy Unleashed…
The Remain Campaign’s Director of Communications Tom Baldwin has written a real sob story for the Spectator in response to an article which pointed out a major error their recent report attacking the ‘Norway Plus’ option. Baldwin goes full holier-than-thou as he insists:
“We are determined to be an evidence-based campaign and will continue to contest claims for forms of Brexit that are clearly untrue…
“Everyone should owe it to the public to engage in that debate in a way that upholds the very highest standards of rigour and truthfulness.”
This is coming from a campaign that:
The “People’s Vote” campaign have no interest in what people have or haven’t voted for, they simply want to stop Brexit by whatever means that are available to them, desperate for a second chance to atone for losing a campaign that was massively stacked in their favour in the first place. They are free to campaign for what they like but trying to take the moral high ground like this really is shameless…
The Liberal Democrats are accused of selling the personal data of party members to the Stronger In campaign. The allegation is contained within the Information Commissioner’s Office report into referendum spending, sections of which have been seen by Guido, which is due to be released later today. The ICO’s report says that they have received the allegation that the Lib Dems sold the data to BSE for £100,000. Not that you’d know from the current state of their finances…
The report also piles further woe on Arron Banks, who could face £135,000 in fines for using the customer database of his Eldon insurance firm to send out unauthorised political marketing from Leave.EU.
Whilst the Lib Dems and BSE have denied the allegation against them, both admit that BSE had bought electoral register information from the party. The ICO say they are “still looking at how the Remain side handled personal data”. Guido looks forward to them pursuing their investigation into Remain with as much zeal as they’ve been looking into the Leave side…
There is a long list of reasons why Carole Cadwalladr’s claims that Vote Leave “cheated” on their spending during the referendum are wrong. First and foremost, the Remain campaign did exactly the same thing that Cadwalladr is accusing Vote Leave of, only far, far worse. Vote Leave gifted BeLeave £625,000. Yet in the month before the vote the Remainers set up FIVE new campaigns and funnelled a MILLION pounds into them so they could stay under the spending limit:
DDB UK Ltd registered as an independent campaign on 25 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. DDB UK Ltd received £191,000 in donations.
Best For Our Future registered as a permitted participant on 27 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. It received £424,000 in donations
The In Crowd registered on 10 June 2016, less than two weeks before the referendum. It received £76,000 in donations.
Virgin Management Ltd registered as a permitted participant on 3 June 2016, less than three weeks before the referendum. It received £210,000 in donations.
Wake Up And Vote registered as a permitted participant on 24 May 2016, less than a month before the referendum. It received £100,000 in donations.
The Remain campaign did exactly the same thing as Vote Leave, only with more money and with five new campaigns. This renders Cadwalladr’s central charge against Vote Leave completely obsolete.
Reason number two why the claims about Vote Leave and BeLeave coordinating are bonkers. The lawyer championing the Cadwalladr claims, Jolyon Maugham, has called the validity of the referendum into question over alleged collusion among the Leave campaigns. Yet the various Remain campaigns coordinated on a much greater scale, holding conference calls every morning to coordinate their messaging, sharing data, suppliers and campaign materials, and coordinating spending. Cadwalladr and Maugham have completely ignored the fact that the Remain campaigns colluded on a much larger scale.
Reason number three, and the most obvious of the lot: how can Vote Leave reasonably be accused of cheating on spending when the Remain campaign spent far, far more and had the entire machinery of Whitehall behind them? Electoral Commission figures show the Remain campaign spent £19 million. The Leave campaign spent £13 million. The government spent £9 million of taxpayers’ money on Remain campaign literature. £3 million of this was spent on online ads and “digital promotion”. How can Vote Leave possibly be accused of cheating when the overall spending was so blatantly biased in favour of the Remain campaign?
As the Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman says:
The Remain campaign coordinated their efforts on a conference call every morning. They used taxpayers money to send campaign literature to every household under the guise of information. If it was stacked, it was stacked against Leave. I voted Remain but this is ridiculous
— Tim Shipman (@ShippersUnbound) March 24, 2018
The truth is the only people pushing Cadwalladr’s nonsense are ultra-Remainers who cannot fathom that the country wants Brexit, and have to believe that the Leave vote only happened due to some corruption or cheating. The facts simply do not bear this out.
Following the Electoral Commission’s refusal to investigate the Remain campaign despite clear evidence of spending breaches, Priti Patel has accused them of bias and “double standards”. Priti notes that the Commission launched a full investigation into Vote Leave over claims of spending collusion – despite no evidence – and yet are refusing to look at BSE even though a whole dossier of evidence was submitted to them. Priti has a point – how can they investigate the Leavers when there is no evidence, but ignore evidence of Remainers overspending?
What is particularly concerning is that you decided on 20 November 2017 to reopen an investigation into Vote Leave Limited and Mr Darren Grimes, in spite of the fact that there is much less evidence of a common plan. As you acknowledge at  of the Review of Assessments – ‘there are no direct indications of the campaigners working together’ (my emphasis added) and that – as you state at  – that ‘the Commission is not aware of what any such communications [between Vote Leave and Mr Grimes] contained or whether it indicated a common plan or arrangement was in place’.
In other words – despite the fact that there is no evidence of Vote Leave Limited or Mr Grimes engaging in joint planning (even of an advisory nature) – you have been persuaded of the need for a full investigation. However, when clear documented evidence of the Remain campaigns coordinating specific messaging is presented to you, this is dismissed as ‘advisory’. This would appear to be a clear case of double standards.
Priti not unreasonably alleges the Electoral Commission have a lower bar for investigating Leavers than Remainers:
I have to conclude that the Electoral Commission appears to have used an extraordinarily low bar – arguably, far too low a bar— when deciding to open your new investigation on Vote Leave and other campaigners for Brexit, yet have set a very high bar when deciding to open an investigation into Britain Stronger in Europe.
She wants them to reconsider their decision. Good luck with that – we know where the Electoral Commission’s loyalties really lie…